Celebrating 36 years of providing music education to Chicago children, the Merit School of Music will honor pianist and philanthropist Judy Istock and corporate leader Aon Corporation at its spring Gala, May 6, 2015 at 6 p.m. at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago.

All proceeds benefit Merit School of Music and its mission to give children - especially children living in economically disadvantaged communities - the opportunity to achieve their full musical and personal potential through accessible, high-quality music education.

Guests at Merit's gala - which is co-chaired by Chicago philanthropist Ellen Gignilliat and retired Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Northern Trust Corporation William A. Osborn - will enjoy hearing the success stories of students and be treated to live performances by an assortment of Merit's top soloists and ensembles. The evening starts with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m. with an open bar and hors d'oeuvres, followed by a delightful sit-down dinner and program at 7 p.m., and the opportunity to dance late into the evening at an after-dinner party.

Merit School of Music will present its Alice S. Pfaelzer Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts to Judy Istock. Istockis a pianist, piano teacher, civic leader, volunteer, philanthropist and fundraiser. Generous with her time, talent, and financial support, Istock is known for her perfect pitch, both musically and while raising much needed funds for Merit School of Music. She is a highly regarded Life Trustee of Merit where she has served for nearly 15 years. During her tenure on Merit's board, she co chaired Merit's annual benefit six times, including last year's 35th Anniversary gala honoring acclaimed soprano RenĂ©e Fleming.  She also donated the Steinway D concert piano, the choice of the world's top pianists, which currently anchors the stage of Merit's showcase concert space, the Anne & Howard Gottlieb Hall. Istock is also a Life Trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a Trustee of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, home of the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven. She serves on the Dean's Advisory Committee for the School of Education at the University of Michigan, where, with her husband, Verne Istock, she has established 12 scholarships spanning diverse disciplines including music, education, business, liberal arts, and athletics.

For more information about the upcoming gala event or to reserve tickets, call Merit School of Music, 312. 267.4461.

To learn more about Merit's music education programs, visit meritmusic.org or call 312.786.9428.       

Merit Gala to Honor Pianist and Philanthropist Just Istock

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Judy Istock (far right) in attendance at Merit School of Music's 2014 Gala (photo by Jasmin Shah).

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